Barry and Sharon

20190529_180025                                                     © jb katke

Disclaimer: The pictured gun was not the weapon used in this story. Additionally, names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Sharon didn’t wake up until she sat bolt upright in bed.

“Barry! Are you alright?”

The stillness of night returned.

It couldn’t have been a dream, the shot was too real. “Barry, answer me, are you okay?”

All was quiet. As she sat pondering what to do, a second shot rang out.

Never again would Sharon hear her brother’s voice. Or her father’s.

The reality was Sharon and Barry lived a nightmare life. Their dad was mentally unstable. The siblings learned at an early age to look after each other.

Their paternal grandparents were well-known and influential in the community. The stigma of their son in a mental institution would have been more than they could bear.

Instead they live with this.

It was the Viet Nam era and Barry was in his senior year of high school. His dad was under doctor’s care and doing quite well. But as father’s do, got thinking…

Soon Barry would be eligible for the draft. The thought of his son going to war was too much for this dad to handle. There was only one way he could see to spare him of that horror.

Now reality set in. What he did was reprehensible and the remaining family will suffer from his action.

The next morning I learned what had taken place down the street. There are no words for that kind of pain and loss. At the funeral I merely held Sharon’s hand. The following year Sharon and I graduated high school and we lost contact with each other.

After all these years, I still pray for the family. I’ve heard there is a reason for everything. Maybe that is why we have established interventions now? Perhaps our world needed a wake-up call to learn better treatments for mental illness.

Or should we just depend upon God for all the things that we don’t understand, because he does?

The Drive-by Incident

Drive-by shootings came to my attention in the 1980’s. They were in the news on a regular basis.

I got to experience one and lived to tell about it.

I was behind the wheel of Big Blue, our full-size van. The bulk of it gave me a false sense of security.

I was enroute to pick up my daughter at her friend’s home.The street was a pleasant drive, except for this particular day.

To my left was a line of trees, just beyond them, Westland Mall. The right side was a series of apartment buildings.


The White Van

Out of nowhere a white van came racing up from behind, tailgating me. He stayed there for a few minutes.

Thinking he might want to pass, I slowed down. So did the white van.

I was beginning to feel uncomfortable.

Eventually it came up beside me, keeping pace with my speed.

When I sped up, so did this van. I slowed down, likewise did the van, staying right by my side.

Feeling Stalked

My discomfort grew into feeling stalked. In my mind I was certain if I acknowledged their presence, I would be looking down the barrel of a gun. So I refused to turn my head. I chose not to make that the last thing I saw before I was shot.

After what seemed like hours, the van raced ahead, disappearing just as suddenly as it appeared. I took a deep breathe. savoring life.

Hello Police?

Today, I might have done things differently. For starters, taken down the licence number.

But for what?

Hello Police? I want to report a van that scared me.

Nothing happened. It was over and the van was gone. There was nothing the police could do.

Looking back on this non event, I’m convinced God was with me. I will be forever grateful for how He looked after my safety, regardless of where I was at spiritually.

At that time, I wasn’t giving the Lord much thought.

Interesting, isn’t it, how 20/20 hindsight gives a better view of reality?